According to technology investment firm, Digital Power Group (DPC), the word’s digital economy currently accounts for 10 per cent of mankind’s energy use; 1,500TWhs – the equivalent of Germany and Japan’s usage combined.
The globe’s Information Communications Technology ecosystem’s usage is growing exponentially according to the report which claims cloud based computing services and the increased popularity of smartphones are responsible for the trend.
The amount of energy used by such technologies, equate to the same amount that once lit the whole world in 1985 stated the report. For example, watching an hour of video on a smartphone a week, consumes more energy than what two refrigerators do in one year.
Although innovations are working towards the sustainability of the tech industry, and the energy demand is moderated to a certain extent through efficiency measures, it appears consumer demand is currently growing faster than sustainable solution implementation.
It seems a strange concept, but cloud and wireless technologies actually use more energy than wired networks according to the DPC. The Chartered Institute of IT believes that this report is a signal for society to take note of to re-evaluate data habits. Spokesman Peter Hopton said:
“A society in which we’re constantly checking our Facebook status, uploading pictures or sending Tweets is…contributing to the climate change problem. Most people are simply unaware of IT’s environmental impact, and this report just highlights the scale of what’s being missed. The problem essentially boils down to data. Modern mobile users consume data at an alarming rate. It’s not that particular mobile phone models aren’t energy efficient, it’s that we use these devices to access cloud computing services, and this ‘always-on’ IT culture requires huge data farms to be located around the country. Needless to say, these facilities require huge amounts of power to run and, on the most part, can be extremely inefficient.”
The UK is the biggest home to these data centres which as a collective consume over 6.4GW of power every year – the same amount as over six million homes. Hopton said it is a case of people being aware of what the 24hr access culture is doing.
He continued: “The solutions to make these facilities green are available, it just takes a little effort from IT decision makers to implement them and it’s down to the rest of us to make them sit up and take note”
The research is backed up by the Carbon trust which just last week stated that the most carbon intensive way to watch something is through mobile streaming.